12:27 GMT24 July 2021
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    Astronomers keep watching a distant star in the process of destroying several exoplanets orbiting it. Many fear that our Sun may someday become the like of the white dwarf called WD 1145+017 and will likewise rip apart our Solar system.

    The findings are the first observation of a solar system being torn apart by a dead star, according to a team reporting today in the journal Nature.

    “This is something no human has seen before,” said Andrew Vanderburg of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

    “We’re watching a solar system get destroyed,” he said in a statement.

    Dr. Vanderburg and his team had used NASA’s exoplanet-hunting Kepler spacecraft to make the discovery.

    In October 2015 astronomers announced that they had discovered a rocky object coming apart in a death spiral around this distant star.

    It was the first planetary-sized object detected orbiting the white dwarf.

    They had noticed a regular dip in the brightness of the WD 1145+017, which is about 570 light years away in the constellation Virgo, every four-and-a-half hours, suggesting an object was orbiting the star at a distance of about 840,000 kilometers — about twice the distance between Earth and the Moon.

    The discovery has provided a glimpse of what may happen to our own Solar System when the Sun stops burning.

    “Our sun will one day balloon out to become a red giant star, wiping out Mercury and Venus and maybe Earth, before it becomes a white dwarf,” lead author Boris Gänsicke, an astronomer at the University of Warwick, told Space.com.

    “By looking at this white dwarf, we get a look at what the future of the Solar System might be like,” he added.

    White dwarfs are the remains of dead Sun-like stars which have run out of fuel

    After first expanding into a red giant and engulfing the inner planets (which in the Solar System will include Earth), the star sheds its outer layers to leave a small and very dense core.


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    warning, destruction, Solar System, exoplanets, dead star, white dwarf, University of Warwick, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, NASA, Boris Gänsicke, Andrew Vanderburg, US
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